Monday, November 24, 2008

Online Advertising Depression Proof???

I was wondering yesterday, well actually it was more like last week; is there any business that is Depression proof.. not just Recession proof?

Even in the bleakest of economic downturns there will still be sellers looking for buyers and buyers looking for sellers.. albeit cheaper sellers than previously but an "economy" will still exist since people that can afford food and shelter will buy it.

So, the question: Is online advertising the best investment? Since the internet did not exist back in 1929 and if the current global economic woes continue in a downward spiral to oblivion it would be interesting to see the impact to online advertising. Peronally, I don't think we will be able to understand if it is the best way to reach customers until the economy turns upwards and we can do all the statistical research we love to understand the impact of the internet and online advertising in a time of global recession.

I would be greatly interested if anyone knows of any current, as in real-time daily research coming out regarding online advertising budgets and strategies during the current economic downturn.

On a personal note, I still think online advertising is the best option since an advertiser can see results fairly quickly and measure effectiveness at a much lower cost than the more traditional forms of advertising.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Online Advertising is becoming Consumer Behavior's Best Friend

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. There is a story in the NYT detailing how 1,200 people who attended the 97th annual conference of the Association of National Advertisers heard speaker after speaker address the growing popularity of behavioral targeting (an advertising methodology in which an advertiser’s creative is shown to consumers based on the websites consumers visit and/or what the consumer does on those websites), as opposed to basing pitches on consumer attitudes, opinions or perceptions. Interesting stuff.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why I Stopped Being a Loyal Starbucks Customer.

I used to be a loyal Starbucks customer. Every morning, I trudged to my local store where my favorite team of baristas concocted a brew that I loved. Yet, I am sad to report that I have stopped this pattern. I am no longer a loyal Starbucks customer.

In order to understand my decision, you need to first accept the fact that Starbucks simply does not take good care of its customers who order drip coffee. These customers are typically heavy drinkers and predominantly male. They tend to drink a large cup of coffee in the morning to get a jump start. These customers have always been treated as second-class.

The evidence for this comes from many places.

First, the new drip coffee brewing machines take way too long to brew coffee. If the coffee you want is not available, you have to wait four and a half minutes- four minutes for it to brew and 30 seconds for an energetic barista to jettison the lukewarm coffee and load the new batch. This is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Second, some of us have frequented Starbucks for its mild drip coffee. This has proven to be a fool's errand. The demand for mild drip coffee is low. As a result, baristas are likely to not want to brew it at regular intervals. In the location I frequented, it was most common for me to not have mild drip coffee available when I arrived. The baristas were nice and offered to make me a new batch which would take the aforementioned 4.5 minutes.

Third, on more than two occasions, I was served lukewarm drip coffee. If I am paying Starbucks money for drip coffee, I demand hot coffee. The lukewarm coffee is a joke. I had to draw the attention of the barista who brewed another batch for me in 4.5 minutes.

In addition to these reasons, Starbucks has surreptitiously increased the price of drip coffee. At this point, in the Seattle area, I believe a grande drip goes for $1.91. Only a few months back, this was $1.75.

I was recently in New York. What a place! In any case, I found this place there called Guy and Gallard that has unbelievable coffee. I wish they were in Seattle.

As for Starbucks, I think they have lost their commitment to the customer. I worry about their future.

Radiohead fans to pick album cost

If you are a Radiohead fan, you can choose how much you pay for their album. They managed to cut out the middle-man. But do you think it's a one-off attempt? Or is this a new business model that the music industry has to follow in order to survive? If you are given the choice, how much will you pay?

BBC News Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK

Radiohead fans are able to choose how much to pay for the band's next album, In Rainbows, which is available for download on 10 October.

Instead of listing a price for the music, the group's website simply states "it's up to you" - and then adds: "No really, it's up to you."

The announcement was made online by guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

Fans can buy the download or a £40 "discbox", which includes two CDs, two records, plus artwork and booklets.

Critical acclaim

Traffic to the site has made access difficult for fans at times, but the band's spokesman said it was being worked on.

This is Radiohead's seventh album, but it is their first without a record label, having fulfilled their contract with EMI following 2003's Hail to the Thief.

The band are now "talking to a number of record companies" about releasing the album in a physical format early next year, their spokesman said. EMI are among the companies they are talking to, he added.

The group have received critical acclaim for their previous albums, which have sold millions on both sides of the Atlantic.

They are regarded by some music critics as the world's best rock band.

The digital market is continuing to grow, with a 50% increase in digital single purchases in the first six months of the year, the BPI said in July.

But downloads still only account for 10 to 20% of the overall music market, and that figure includes formats such as ringtones.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Child Wants Cellphone, Reception is Mixed.

Child Wants Cellphone; Reception Is Mixed

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Kate and Hannah Stacks with Hannah’s Firefly cellphone.
Published: March 29, 2007,
TO her parents’ amusement, Hannah Stacks, a third grader in Rye, N.Y., started asking for her own cellphone at age 6. To their consternation, she never stopped. Last fall, after a psychologist suggested tracking her behavior, Hannah, at the sprightly age of 8, got her phone as a reward for not being mean to her little sister for 30 days.

Andrew Henderson for The New York Times
GOING WIRELESS Ryan, front, and Luke Vitale received phones from their parents, Bob and Cindy, for safety reasons.

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
MY FIRST NETWORK Hannah Stacks, 8, a third grader.
“I was so torn because, of course, I wanted her to stop beating on Kate,” said Hannah’s mother, Kim O’Connor, a clinical social worker. “But I also thought, at the end of 30 days, what will I have done?”
After securing a foothold in the teenage market, cellphones are quickly emerging as the must-have techno-toy among elementary-school society. Companies are sating the appetite — and expanding demand — by offering special phones for children like the bright blue Firefly, which features only five keys, including ones with icons for speed-dialing a parent, and allows users to call a maximum of 22 numbers.
Industry analysts say the ’tween market, defined as 8- to 12-year-olds, represents one of the major growth opportunities for the wireless industry. Some 6.6 million of the 20 million American children in that age range had cellphones by the end of 2006, according to an analysis by the Yankee Group, a technology consulting firm in Boston, which projects there will be 10.5 million preteen cellphone users by 2010.
The number of 8-year-olds with phones, Yankee Group estimates, more than doubled to 506,000 over the past four years while the number of 9-year-olds jumped to 1.25 million from 501,000.
Children want a cellphone for reasons obvious to them. It looks cool and makes them feel grown-up. It conveys a certain status. And it lets them stay in near-constant touch with friends and (oh, yeah) parents.
For parents, the decision of when, or whether, to buy children cellphones — paralleling the age-old debate over the appropriate age for ear piercing — is emotionally charged and value-laden, raising ticklish questions about safety and status, maturity and materialism.
Some parents and child psychologists say the need for cellphones among such young children, who are rarely without adult supervision, is marginal, and the gadgets serve mainly as status symbols, quickly lost in a tangle of toys, batteries hopelessly out of juice. Others, though, say the phones are an electronic security blanket for both parent and child in a world of two-career households and split-custody arrangements, Amber alerts and color-coded terror threat levels.
“My kids are never left alone, so this is an emergency backup system,” said Cindy O’Neill Vitale, who bought cellphones last summer for her sons, then 8 and 10, before a weeklong vacation with family friends. “I honestly believe that we live in a time now where it’s important to be able to have access for whatever reason. God forbid there’s another 9/11. I was in the city that day and I couldn’t reach them.”
Dr. Cornelia Brunner, deputy director of the Center for Children and Technology, a nonprofit research group in Manhattan, said cellphones can serve as “transitional objects” for young children suffering separation anxiety from their parents, and that phones with “reasonably interesting games” might have some “redeeming educational value.”
“Dolls are unnecessary too,” noted Dr. Brunner, a developmental psychologist. “The only harm is an economic one. Kids whose families can’t afford all this junk are made to feel worse and worse, and some parents end up shelling out money that would be better spent elsewhere.”
The Firefly, introduced in 2005, costs $49.99, plus $15 an hour of talk time (paid in advance); it comes with a backpack clip. Competitors include Enfora’s TicTalk, $99 plus $25 for 100 prepaid minutes, and Disney Mobile’s three youth-oriented phones, unveiled last summer, with a price range of $29.99 to $99.99, plus calling plans that start at $24.99 for 200 minutes.
Brian Schillaci, principal of Indian Hill School in Holmdel, N.J., which spans fourth to sixth grades, said he has seen a sharp rise in the number of students using cellphones. When a committee devised new rules four years ago saying cellphones could not be visible or in use during the school day, Mr. Schillaci said, there were only a handful of incidents a year; now children are sent to the office once or twice a week for cellphone infractions.
Despite the popularity of the child-friendly phones, some industry analysts say they have a short shelf life because what seems cool to a 7-year-old feels babyish to a middle-schooler. Verizon is phasing out the LG Migo, a simple bright-green phone with a limited keypad that allowed users to program only five numbers, replacing it with the LG VX3450, which has a silver flip design, text-messaging capability and two embedded games (it costs $20 plus a two-year calling plan).
With a subtly playful bean shape, the new phone allows parents to restrict calls and messaging. And like the Migo, it features a global-positioning satellite device so that parents can locate the phone, and presumably the child, from another phone or a Web site. (Disney’s phone also offers such tracking, and the TicTalk is being retooled to include it.)
“An 11-year-old boy wouldn’t be caught dead carrying the Migo,” said David Samberg, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless. “With this new phone, it still gives parents control, but if the child is entering that pre-adolescent period, this phone is not going to scream: ‘My mother’s watching me.’ ”
CHARLES GOLVIN, principal analyst at Forrester Research, a technology firm, said the tracking features, which can find a child down to the exact cross streets, were proving popular among parents. “As the parent of a 13-year-old girl, I embrace the concept of invading her privacy to give me peace of mind,” he said. “A lot of the appeal for the parent in giving a child a cellphone is safety.”
Scott Pierce, who lives in White Plains and is a news photographer for WWOR-TV in New York, bought the Migo for his daughter, Morgan, when she turned 11. Now 13, Morgan recently graduated to a real phone, and her 10-year-old brother, Darien, gladly took the Migo hand-me-down.
“He’s not at the point where he can walk around alone,” Mr. Pierce said of his son. “But you never know. You’re getting off the bus, and you have predators who swipe kids. What if the bus driver has a heart attack? Or the bus is stranded on the side of the road? Things happen.”
After a feverish debut, the once-coveted cellphones often are quickly forgotten by young dialers who, after all, can barely be convinced to say a few words to grandma over the phone, and likely have few peers with phones to call.
“As soon as we purchased the phones, they lost some of their razzle-dazzle,” said Christie Lavigne of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., whose 7-year-old son, Dylan, and 9-year-old daughter, Gigi, each got a Firefly for Christmas. “The first three days they had them, they were calling me and my husband 20 times. But then the novelty wore off, and I think they’re at a healthy place.”
Audrey Gray, a single mother in Philadelphia who shares custody of her son, Jackson, 8, and travels on business once or twice a month, said that when she first bought her son a phone at age 7, he “was like a jealous boyfriend calling me all the time.”
“He’d call me from the cafeteria, screaming, ‘Mom, I’m at lunch,’ and I said, ‘Great, buddy. How’s it going?’ and he yelled, ‘Good. Do you want to talk to Gabe?’ Then he called me from math class and was whispering, ‘Hey Mom, I was just calling to see how you are,’ ” she recalled. “Then I never heard from him again.”
But Ms. Gray, a senior editor of E-Gear, a technology magazine, said she had “zero agony” over the decision to get Jackson a phone. “He did lose it, of course, like 17 times, but we seem to find it,” she said. “There’s something comforting about having a direct connection to him. We don’t use it, but I like knowing it’s there.”
Parents say that the incursion of cellphones into ’tween society has ratcheted up the electronics race, with mobile phones joining laptops, digital cameras and iPods on children’s wish lists. Because cellphones are still something of a novelty among 7- and 8-year-olds, those parents who cave sometimes feel a chill from those holding out.
Phyllis Schneble, a marketing executive in Fairfield, Conn., is proud to buck the wireless trend: she has three children and said the oldest would not get a phone until she turns 16.
“Generations survived with a dime tucked in their shoe,” she said. “Ninety percent of the calls made on cellphones are not critical or even substantive — mostly pure fluff and nonsense. Where are the casual conversations on the street, in the halls, when everyone is plugged into their own world?”
And Mrs. O’Connor remembered the complications when Hannah’s flashy phone made its debut last fall.
“Of course, the first day it’s handed to her, she takes it to school, and her best friend starts screaming and crying that she wants a cellphone,” she said. “Her mother looked at me like, thank you for ruining my day. That afternoon I had a talk with Hannah: ‘You have a cellphone. It’s a privilege. Please don’t advertise it to the other children.’ ”
But it was hard to hide from Mrs. O’Connor’s younger daughter, Kate, who survived Hannah’s abuse to turn 6 and recently started campaigning for a cellphone.
“She said her life would be complete if she had a cellphone,” Ms. O’Connor recalled. “We said you can reapply when you’re 8.”

Saturday, October 06, 2007

BT invites homeowners to share their broadband with passers-by

Are you willing to share your Internet connection with anyone? That's what BT (British Telecom) is asking you to do in return for the right to access the network via other people's connections. But how about privacy and security? Is the business model sustainable here? or is it the way forward for WiFi service? Let me ask again, are you willing to share?
October 6, 2007

BT invites home owners to share their broadband with passers-by

Homeowners are being invited to share their internet connections with passers-by in return for the right to access the network via other people’s connections.

The attempt to expand the nation’s wi-fi network will mean that anybody with one of the latest mobile phone handsets, such as the Apple iPhone and some BlackBerrys, can access the internet through the front window of a participating home. People who sign up to the scheme, announced by BT and FON, a Spanish internet company, will be able to access the net through other people’s broadband connections and through BT’s 2,000 wi-fi hotspots. A typical home broadband router, which transmits the wireless signal, has a 30m range, making it easy for passers-by to “piggyback”.

Existing BT broadband subscribers will be able to join the scheme free of charge. Those with other providers need to pay a one-off £30 fee for a FON router, after which they can share their connection and access the internet whenever their phone is in one of the other residential hotspots.

There are now more than 10,000 wi-fi hotspots across Britain, the majority at airports, railway stations and cafés, but almost all are paid-for services, starting at about £6 an hour, or £10 for a day’s access. The thinking behind the new scheme is that, as more mobile phones are able to access the net via wi-fi, there will be demand for free internet access on such devices, so that popular services, such as music downloads, do not take so long. Accessing the web via a mobile phone network can be painfully slow.

Currently about 3 per cent of telephones in Europe have wi-fi capability but that figure is expected to grow to more than 40 per cent in the next three years, according to the analysis company Gartner.

FON would not say how many British residents were already signed up to its network, but it said that as soon as the number reached 50,000, the service would start to be useful.

Sceptics said that it was unlikely that people would be in the shared hotspots, predominantly residential streets, when they wanted to use free wi-fi, and that quality control would be difficult to maintain. Security experts also said that there could be significant risks for consumers in opening their home broadband connections. Paul Vlissidis, technical director of the security company NCC, said: “Wild horses would not get me to sign up to this. It is not just the risk of having personal details taken. What about if someone starts downloading child pornography via my connection? Am I implicated?”

Diego Cabezudo, FON’s chief operating officer, said that the public and private parts of the connection were kept completely separate and that visitors could not access documents stored on the homeowner’s computer.

Surfing on the move

— Wi-fi hotspots are pockets of “wireless connectivity” that allow any device with wi-fi capability to connect to the internet at broadband speed

— Most laptops and many high-end mobile phones, including Nokia’s N-series and some BlackBerrys, have wi-fi built in. According to Gartner, 40 per cent of phones will have wi-fi in three years

— There are more than 10,000 wi-fi hotspots in Britain, with the majority at transport hubs and hotels. The largest network is The Cloud, which supports more than 8,000 hotspots, including at most main airports, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal football clubs

— Wi-fi coverage is now offered in city centres, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Canary Wharf and the City of London

— In Silicon Valley, California, authorities are attempting to set up a large-scale wi-fi network that would provide internet access to 42 cities over an area of nearly 4,000 sq km (1,544 sq miles), but the project is struggling from lack of demand, as well as problems related to coverage

— Cybercriminals are now targeting wi-fi hotspots using “evil twin” attacks, where victims think they are logging on to a genuine network but are diverted to a rogue website, where their keystrokes are captured by the fraudsters

McDonald's has got Wi-Fi for you

According to, we will be able to surf the web for free while enjoying our meals in all McDonald's restaurants in the UK. Is this services also offered in the states as well? Is WiFi becoming a necessity that we don't pay for as we take it for granted like tap water, light and tissues? Or is MacDonald's trying to change its image from a fast-food restaurant to a "fast-cafe"?


McDonald's has got Wi-Fi for you
October 6, 2007
Web User

Next week you'll be able to surf the web while you eat your Big Mac in all McDonald's restaurants in the UK.

The popular chain is launching free Wi-Fi access in every branch in the UK from 8 October and it is hoping to attract workers who aren't able to use the internet at work.

"The internet is an important part of our daily lives but it is becoming much harder for people to get online for personal use at work, with many companies restricting access and some banning it altogether," said Amanda Pierce of McDonald's UK, comments:

"With the launch of free Wi-Fi access in McDonald's restaurants from Monday, we can provide the ultimate work break for UK employees to conveniently access the worldwide web. From the comfort of our restaurants, Brits will be able to come out of hiding and surf freely, for free."

Research cited by McDonald's suggests that one in four workers in the UK knows someone, or has themselves been disciplined for using the internet at work.

The offering has been praised by some industry-watchers, though free Wi-Fi is not as uncommon as it used to be.

"Free Wi-Fi is less exciting today than it would have been a couple of years ago, because the public mobile network operators have got much further in rolling out their HSDPA networks. HSDPA is now widely available, with data rates comparable to Wi-Fi," said Jeremy Green of market analysts Ovum.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Lee Miller: Let Me Introduce Myself


I guess you could say this is my first blog. I've read tons of blogs, but I've never commented or posted. I too would like to thank Dr. Krishnamurthy for the invite. I am thrilled to be participating on this blog. As background information, I went to Morehouse College (English major) and Columbia Law School. I started in corporate law and then made my way to marketing. I am interested in pursuing a Ph.D. and joining the teaching ranks of my fellow contributors.

My interest lies in Consumer Behavior. In particular, I am curious about the relationship between Consumers, Brands and Online social networks. There was an article on entitled "For Relevance, Think Three-Way: Love Triangle: To Connect With Consumers, Brands Must Intersect With Online Communities, Too" that discusses this very relationship.

I like others look forward to many lively discussions. Here's to "life, liberty and the pursuit of marketing"!

What Women Want

An article over on AdAge reported yesterday the results of Anderson Analytics' annual survey of college students' brand affinities and media use. Among the clear winners: Apple, Target, and Facebook. Kind of makes me wonder why I don't see more iTunes on Facebook (though I have seen a lot of Target ads).

They suggest that online social networking is by-and-large a women's thing--that they are the "über networkers" among the college-aged crowd--an observation that jibs with what I've seen in my classes. It makes you wonder whether markets that are more male dominated are more easily reached by traditional broadcast means. Or, to turn that around, whether traditionally male-dominated areas (many of my students work for ESPN, which has, I assume, a heavily male and possibly younger), are missing a market because they haven't managed to engage social networks.

Also interesting was that Digg ranked as a favorite among male college students. It's not a surprise, exactly, but I still think of Digg as a relatively niche site, even though the traffic is huge. I wonder what portion of that traffic is 18-22 years old males. There is a self-perception among "Digggers" that it is also a heavily male crowd.

The article reminds us that this crowd tends to shape the consumption of others--older and younger--and so tends to be of special importance. Traditionally, it has been the males in this group who have been seen as prime targets, but if the women are more networky, making them into brand evangelists could have a much more substantial effect...

Alex Halavais: Self-Introduction

As the new kid on the blog, I figured I should introduce myself. My name is Alex Halavais, and I now teach at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, mainly in an MS program in Interactive Communication. My research generally involves social computing, and especially blogging, and how public discussion occurs. I'm also interested in the diffusion of innovation. All of these, obviously, tie back to marketing in interesting ways. I've got a book coming out soon(ish), called Search Engine Society (Polity Press), and I blog over at a Thaumaturgical Compendium.

Thanks to Sandeep for getting the ball rolling, and looking forward to seeing where this goes.

It's All Over for Wal-Mart.

The WSJ has an article arguing that it is all over for Wal-Mart. The specific quote is- "The Wal-Mart Era, the retailer's time of overwhelming business and social influence in America, is drawing to a close."

The article argues that Wal-Mart has only one advantage- price. On the other hand, its competitors have multiple advantages- "greater convenience, more selection, higher quality, or better service." The article berates Wal-Mart for its politically incorrect image.

While I do agree with the thesis of the article that Wal-Mart's influence has eroded, I think the article misses some big points. For one, I think Wal-Mart is terrible at store experience. They believe in simply throwing stuff together with the mistaken impression that consumers do not care about wide aisles or attractive displays. Target, on the other hand, is superb with store experience issues.

The article also includes this cool video I use in class regularly-

Is this sort of growth a thing of the past?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Nissan's Viral Ad (Maze Master I, II)

AdWeek confirms that this was a Nissan ad. Full article follows-

Rogue Elements
October 01, 2007
By Barbara Lippert

"I broke history," says Hiro, the aptly-named time-traveling hero of Heroes, NBC's breakout hit, the second season of which premiered last week. The show has become an object of continued cult worship, strong ratings and an artfully integrated exclusive sponsorship by the new Nissan Rogue.

Heroes is really about superheroes, in the best Marvel Comics sense. Although there are no tights or capes in sight, nearly every character in the multi-ethnic, multigenerational cast boasts some sort of bizarro-world ability. For instance, Hiro Nakamura, an otherwise re-pressed Japanese office worker, can control "the space-time continuum." And in a magical bit of synergy, so does Nissan's sponsorship of the show, by paying for limited commercial interruptions during the first part of the one-hour season premiere.

Ironically, in these days of ad clutter, one engaging, much appreciated way for advertisers to use their enormous media powers for good (and build brand loyalty) is to hold down the number of annoying interruptions from companies such as themselves. That goes double for commercial slots during tense, dense, character-heavy, story-packed programs like Heroes.

But limiting interruptions is just a small part of Nissan and NBC's multi-platform deal, which pretty much covers every touchpoint, cliché or buzzword you can come up with. There's print, a special co-sponsorship with Rodale's health and fitness magazines, out of home, a microsite with Rogue-based online games that integrate the vehicle into such oldies but goodies as Pong, Pac-Man and Breakout, a Rogue giveaway, and script and action integration on the show.

(The cheerleader, played by Hayden Panettierre, receives the car from her dad. Although crossover SUVs like the Rogue have historically appealed to women, Nissan is sort of zigging where other carmakers zag, by targeting male gamers in their 30s. But we can see from this bit of the script that it's still a gender-neutral pitch).

The deal also features brand-spanking-new digital elements, like an site-wide roadblock, and an exclusive presence on NBC Rewind for the night after the premiere on streaming video. Mobile phones are also covered with a video simulcast.

Given all the super-duper components, I'm going to focus on just two aspects: the viral videos from Tequila and the 60-second TV spot from TBWA\Chiat\Day.

The virals were posted to YouTube to seed the TV spot's debut, and even though they are obvious plants, they're really well done and hugely entertaining. Called Maze Masters I and II, each is based on the labyrinth-style Marble Maze game we all had as kids, which I liked, because I could play it with the boys, until they got mad and broke stuff.

The first one, shot to look purposely unslick, using a handheld camera on a grungy kitchen table, features the master (in a handmade Rogue T-shirt) doing all sorts of marble tricks: blowing it around the maze, flipping it into a tiny basketball hoop in his mouth, etc. The piece de resistance is that the ball leaps from his hat brim onto a homemade Rube Goldberg device with Habitrail-like tubing, and comes out the other end. Mighty funny stuff.

The second YouTube spot might be even more hilarious. The video is set in a Rogue as it maneuvers around a parking lot. The game box rides shotgun, taped down to the front seat, as a camera guy hangs out in back and shouts orders at the driver: "Left, right, watch out for Snake Alley!" In this way, they move the marble around on the maze, and when they complete the game, the driver runs a victory lap around the parking lot.

The labyrinth is the star of the TV spot, as well. The spot is amazingly simpatico with the look and feel of the show, deftly mixing drama, sci-fi and comedy, live action and CG, and even managing to approximate its eerily washed-out palette. Although it does not feature people with superpowers, it does show an exciting ride, as a guy moves (and, OK, practically flies) through a city in his Rogue, avoiding potholes—a taxi in front of him is not so lucky—and other natural and manmade disasters. The music, "Pressure Drop" by punk band The Clash, is a perfect matchup.

The denouement is the biggest delight: The entire city is, in fact, part of an elaborate Marble Maze gameboard. The camera pulls back to show tiny cars shooting out of the bottom, while a helicopter buzzes in the distance. As a revelation, it's not going to stop the time-space continuum, but for a TV spot, it's worth the interruption.

Toyota is not green?

It turns out that while the Prius is cool, Toyota in general is not green. Hmmmm.
Toyota's Environmental Image Challenged
Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: October 4, 2007
Filed at 12:16 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Never mind that the Toyota Prius is popular with environmentally conscious motorists -- some environmentalists still wonder if Toyota is living up to its image as a green automaker.

Environmental groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, are challenging Toyota Motor Corp.'s opposition to strict fuel economy standards pending in Congress, a position the Japanese company shares with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

During the past two weeks, about 8,300 NRDC activists sent e-mails and faxes to Toyota urging the company to support a Senate energy bill that would set a 35-mile-per-gallon requirement by 2020.

Other environmental groups, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Environmental Trust, are mobilizing to challenge Toyota for supporting a more modest approach on so-called CAFE standards that would require 32 to 35 mpg by 2022.

''They have a green halo, justifiably, and yet unbeknownst to their customers they've joined forces with the Detroit Three to argue against greener standards,'' said Deron Lovaas, the NRDC's vehicles campaign director.

Toyota contends the Senate bill would hurt the industry and notes that the alternative still would raise the standards up to 40 percent and give automakers more time to meet the goals. The company said it would respond to the messages it receives.

''For the first time, the industry has actually come together for a fuel economy increase, and everyone is pulling together in the same direction,'' Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss said Wednesday. ''Toyota is working very hard behind the scenes to achieve the best standards possible, not only for the whole industry, but to meet the energy and environmental goals that we all share.''

Toyota, along with Honda Motor Co., has been a front-runner in producing fuel-efficient vehicles while emphasizing its hybrid technology. In addition to the popular gas-electric hybrid Prius, Toyota offers several hybrid models, including the hybrid Camry and hybrid Lexus models.

But the campaign underscores some discontent with the company in the environmental community, many of whom drive Prius hybrids. Toyota is challenging GM as the world's biggest automaker and has aggressively promoted the Tundra pickup in the lucrative large truck segment.

''They market every night the Prius and the Toyota Camry -- we're the green car, huh? Then watch the football games, and they're marketing the Toyota Tundra -- like the biggest vehicle ever made,'' Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a Camry hybrid owner, said Wednesday in a speech at an environmental conference.

''We're actually going to name the vehicle the Tundra, after the thing that's being destroyed in Alaska,'' he said. ''How ironic.''